03 June 2014 by Dave Moorcroft
Organisations that rely too heavily on proceduralisation to improve safety may struggle to deliver sustained safety and financial performance. Organisations operating in high-hazard industries are highly regulated, and increased proceduralisation has tended to be the obvious response to flaws identified by accident investigations. Such proceduralisation tends to assume that it is possible to anticipate every situation or condition and apply rules to control behaviour. However complex socio-technical systems are constantly adapting to multiple objectives, changing priorities and conditions, situational differences and new information. In this world of dynamic interactions, it is necessary to go beyond individual system components and the blind application of rules in order to achieve the goals of the organisation. A different approach, defined as adaptive or resilient, focuses instead on the overall culture and leadership of an organisation and its intrinsic ability to produce required outputs under both expected and unexpected conditions. Understanding and focusing on systemic drivers, common to both safety and financial performance, will improve organisational effectiveness in the delivery of both. This adaptive or resilient approach is characterised by a shift from determinism to craftsmanship and the exercise of greater behaviouralcomplexity on the part of leaders to achieve an appropriate balance between proceduralisation and adaptability.
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